This week I very regretfully put the student desks back into rows. I don’t know why I was surprised by the need to do that. Groups never worked in high school, so why would I expect it to work in middle school? For a while it was sort of okay, but it really went downhill after a few weeks. The constant talking among themselves, and the need to always be asking for their attention wore on me. It was so disrespectful, and even though I understand that it is just their nature, I finally threw in the towel and moved them into forward facing rows. I began with a two three two arrangement. That didn’t seem much better, so I modified it again, into six rows, with room for me to walk between them, and on Friday it was pretty good. I’m sure the life of this arrangement is limited as well, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
For the past week we read non-fiction stories about castles (lots of talk about pooping into the moat), Archaeology (lots of talk about Pompeii) and the Sacred Well of the Mayans (sacrifice of beautiful young girls and other unfortunates were the topic here). My students are quietest and most engaged when we are reading and these articles just really did it for them. I think I need to get some copies of those books, True Stories In The News, or something similar. They would happily read nonfiction all the time. Come to think of it, they are usually good when we are reading. I’ thinking maybe we could try a novel after the testing is done. I wonder if it’d sustain their attention.
On another topic, that of the budget cuts, it seems that quite a few pink slips went out this week. The newspaper said 65 notices went out in our district, most of them to teachers. It sounded like our district is giving out more layoff notices than most. I don’t know how many were at our school, but I have heard of a handful of them. The superintendent sent out a regretful letter explaining the need for cutting positions which included information about how many cuts were also being taken at the district office. I was irritated to see that the majority of the cuts there were not new. I don’t wish for anyone to lose their job, but most of the changes mentioned were at least a year or more old (like the elimination of my job there, and the lack of replacement of some Assistant Supes even earlier than a year ago). This doesn’t seem to me to be representative of a reaction to the current situation. It may be that they were simply being proactive back then, but something about it made it seem like a “spin.” I’m disappointed in the disrespect for the district employees that is inherent in sending out a message that implies something that is not completely true. I expect better. And that’s all I have to say about that.